Castle Doctrine

The laws governing the legal use, storage, carrying and transporting of firearms are constantly changing. Below are the applicable laws in the State of Arkansas as of 8/6/2013. The below information is designed to be a guide and not the final word. If you have specific questions, please refer to Arkansas legislation at lexisnexis.com.  If you have any specific questions concerning Castle Doctrine/Self-Defense laws in any state, American Firearms Training recommends contacting an attorney.

The Castle Doctrine (also known as Castle Law, Defense of Habitat Law) are state legal defense laws that gives citizens in their homes/abode, and in some states, cars or workplaces the right to protect themselves, other people, and their property by force. In some instances this includes deadly force without the consequences of legal or possibly civil responsibility and criminal persecution. A Castle Doctrine also states that a person has no “duty of retreat” (avoid the conflict at all cost) when one’s home/abode is under attack.

The State of Arkansas technically does not have a Castle Law.  However the state does have self-defense laws in place to protect person and property.  These laws can be viewed below.

5-2-601.  Definitions.

As used in this subchapter:

(1) "Common carrier" means any vehicle used to transport for hire any member of the public;

(2) "Deadly physical force" means physical force that under the circumstances in which it is used is readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury;

(3) "Dwelling" means an enclosed space that is used or intended to be used as a human habitation, home, or residence on a temporary or permanent basis;

(4) "Minor" means any person under eighteen (18) years of age;

(5)(A) "Occupiable structure" means a vehicle, building, or other structure:
       (i) Where any person lives or carries on a business or other calling;
       (ii) Where people assemble for a purpose of business, government, education, religion, entertainment, or public transportation; or
       (iii) That is customarily used for overnight accommodation of a person whether or not a person is actually present.

     (B) "Occupiable structure" includes each unit of an occupiable structure divided into a separately occupied unit;

(6) "Physical force" means:
   (A) Any bodily impact, restraint, or confinement; or
   (B) The threat of any bodily impact, restraint, or confinement;

(7) "Premises" means:
   (A) An occupiable structure; or
   (B) Any real property;

(8) "Unlawful physical force" means physical force that is employed without the consent of the person against whom it is directed and the employment of the physical force constitutes a criminal offense or tort or would constitute a criminal offense or tort except for a defense other than the defense of justification or privilege; and

(9) "Vehicle" means any craft or device designed for the transportation of a person or property across land or water or through the air.

5-2-602.  Defense.

In a prosecution for an offense, justification as defined in this subchapter is a defense.

5-2-603.  Execution of public duty.

(a) Conduct that would otherwise constitute an offense is justifiable when it is:
   (1) Required or authorized by law or by a judicial decree; or
   (2) Performed by a public servant or a person acting at the public servant's direction in a reasonable exercise or performance of the public servant's official power, duty, or function.

(b) The justification afforded by this section applies if the actor reasonably believes his or her conduct is required or authorized:
   (1) By the judgment or direction of a competent court or tribunal or in the lawful execution of legal process, notwithstanding lack of jurisdiction of the court or tribunal or defect in the legal process; or
   (2) To assist a public servant in the performance of the public servant's duty, notwithstanding that the public servant has exceeded the public servant's legal authority.

5-2-604.  Choice of evils.

(a) Conduct that would otherwise constitute an offense is justifiable when:
   (1) The conduct is necessary as an emergency measure to avoid an imminent public or private injury; and
   (2) According to ordinary standards of reasonableness, the desirability and urgency of avoiding the imminent public or private injury outweigh the injury sought to be prevented by the law proscribing the conduct.

(b) Justification under this section shall not rest upon a consideration pertaining to the morality or advisability of the statute defining the offense charged.

(c) If the actor is reckless or negligent in bringing about the situation requiring a choice of evils or in appraising the necessity for his or her conduct, the justification afforded by this section is unavailable in a prosecution for any offense for which recklessness or negligence, as the case may be, suffices to establish a culpable mental state.

5-2-605.  Use of physical force generally.

The use upon another person of physical force that would otherwise constitute an offense is justifiable under any of the following circumstances:

(1) A parent, teacher, guardian, or other person entrusted with care and supervision of a minor or an incompetent person may use reasonable and appropriate physical force upon the minor or incompetent person when and to the extent reasonably necessary to maintain discipline or to promote the welfare of the minor or incompetent person;

(2) A warden or other authorized official of a correctional facility may use nondeadly physical force to the extent reasonably necessary to maintain order and discipline;

(3) A person responsible for the maintenance of order in a common carrier or a person acting under the responsible person's direction may use nondeadly physical force to the extent reasonably necessary to maintain order;

(4) A person who reasonably believes that another person is about to commit suicide or to inflict serious physical injury upon himself or herself may use nondeadly physical force upon the other person to the extent reasonably necessary to thwart the suicide or infliction of serious physical injury;

(5) A duly licensed physician or a person assisting a duly licensed physician at the duly licensed physician's direction may use physical force for the purpose of administering a recognized form of treatment reasonably adapted to promoting the physical or mental health of a patient if the treatment is administered:
   (A) With the consent of the patient or, if the patient is a minor who is unable to appreciate or understand the nature or possible consequences of the proposed medical treatment or is an incompetent person, with the consent of a parent, guardian, or other person entrusted with the patient's care and supervision; or
   (B) In an emergency when the duly licensed physician reasonably believes that no person competent to consent can be consulted and that a reasonable person, wishing to safeguard the welfare of the patient, would consent.

5-2-606.  Use of physical force in defense of a person.

(a)(1) A person is justified in using physical force upon another person to defend himself or herself or a third person from what the person reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by that other person, and the person may use a degree of force that he or she reasonably believes to be necessary.
    (2) However, the person may not use deadly physical force except as provided in § 5-2-607.

(b) A person is not justified in using physical force upon another person if:
(1) With purpose to cause physical injury or death to the other person, the person provokes the use of unlawful physical force by the other person;
  
(2)(A)  The person is the initial aggressor.
        (B) However, the initial aggressor's use of physical force upon another person is justifiable if:
           (i) The initial aggressor in good faith withdraws from the encounter and effectively communicates to the other person his or her purpose to withdraw from the encounter; and
           (ii) The other person continues or threatens to continue the use of unlawful physical force; or

(3) The physical force involved is the product of a combat by agreement not authorized by law.

5-2-607.  Use of deadly physical force in defense of a person.

(a) A person is justified in using deadly physical force upon another person if the person reasonably believes that the other person is:
   (1) Committing or about to commit a felony involving force or violence;
   (2) Using or about to use unlawful deadly physical force; or
   (3) Imminently endangering the person's life or imminently about to victimize the person as described in § 9-15-103 from the continuation of a pattern of domestic abuse.

(b) A person may not use deadly physical force in self-defense if the person knows that he or she can avoid the necessity of using deadly physical force with complete safety:
(1)(A) By retreating.
     (B) However, a person is not required to retreat if the person is:
        (i) In the person's dwelling or on the curtilage surrounding the person's dwelling and was not the original aggressor; or
        (ii) A law enforcement officer or a person assisting at the direction of a law enforcement officer; or

(2) By surrendering possession of property to a person claiming a lawful right to possession of the property.

(c) As used in this section:
   (1) "Curtilage" means the land adjoining a dwelling that is convenient for residential purposes and habitually used for residential purposes, but not necessarily enclosed, and includes an outbuilding that is directly and intimately connected with the dwelling and in close proximity to the dwelling; and
   (2) "Domestic abuse" means:
     (A) Physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, or assault between family or household members; or
     (B) Any sexual conduct between family or household members, whether minors or adults, that constitutes a crime under the laws of this state.

5-2-608.  Use of physical force in defense of premises.

(a) A person in lawful possession or control of premises or a vehicle is justified in using nondeadly physical force upon another person when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes the use of nondeadly physical force is necessary to prevent or terminate the commission or attempted commission of a criminal trespass by the other person in or upon the premises or vehicle.

(b) A person may use deadly physical force under the circumstances set forth in subsection (a) of this section if:
   (1) Use of deadly physical force is authorized by § 5-2-607; or
   (2) The person reasonably believes the use of deadly physical force is necessary to prevent the commission of arson or burglary by a trespasser.

5-2-609.  Use of physical force in defense of property.

A person is justified in using nondeadly physical force upon another person when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes the use of nondeadly physical force is necessary to prevent or terminate the other person's:

   (1) Commission or attempted commission of theft or criminal mischief; or

   (2) Subsequent flight from the commission or attempted commission of theft or criminal mischief.

If you would like to see a Castle Law in your state, please contact your local Congress representative.  For a list of Arkansas districts and representatives, please visit govtrack.us.

If you have questions about our course, feel free to email us at info@shootsafe.org.  Make sure you include your name, the state whose permit you are pursuing, and if you need a call back, a phone number.  We're happy to help.